AP Images

Kvitova eases into 3rd round at Eastbourne

Leave a comment

EASTBOURNE, England (AP) Petra Kvitova continued to impress with a straight-sets victory over Kateryna Bondarenko in the second round at the Eastbourne International on Tuesday.

The third-seeded Kvitova, who won her fifth title of the season on Sunday in Birmingham, triumphed 7-5, 6-3 and looks in impervious form ahead of her bid to win a third Wimbledon.

Kvitova’s career looked seriously in doubt 18 months ago after a knife attack at her home which led to surgery on her left playing hand.

“I’m pretty happy with my win today,” Kvitova said. “Obviously, I’m a little bit tired, but I got a hit this morning before the match, a warmup.

“The whole tournament (in Birmingham) was more relaxed for me from my side. It was great that I hopefully will save some energy for the next weeks. I felt good with the body, so that’s important.”

In a tight first set, Kvitova secured the first break but Bondarenko broke back when the Czech player was serving for the set.

However, Kvitova broke straight back and held her serve to love, clinching the first set with a delightful serve and volley.

Bondarenko went 3-1 up with a break in the second as Kivitova double-faulted. But that was to be the last game the Ukrainian won. Kvitova sealed the match with another break when her opponent hit a forehand into the net.

Up next for Kvitova is Agnieszka Radwanska, who defeated 15th-seeded Daria Gavrilova 5-7, 7-6 (4), 6-0.

British No. 1 Johanna Konta will face Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki in the third round. The top-seeded Wozniacki eased past Aleksandra Krunic 6-1, 6-3.

The 13th-seeded Konta stuttered at times and perhaps benefited from Krunic injuring herself while sliding into the net mid-rally toward the end of the first set.

The Serbian player had treatment on court and played the second set with strapping on her left leg.

Konta has not dropped a set against Wozniacki in their two previous meetings – the 2017 Australian Open and the final of last year’s Miami Open.

“I’m looking forward to that,” Konta said. “I haven’t played her in quite some time and she’s obviously a Grand Slam champion this year, playing some great tennis, so I’ll look forward to that battle.”

Earlier, Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus upset sixth-seeded Julia Goerges 1-6, 6-4, 6-4, while Danielle Collins of the United States beat 16th-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain 6-2, 6-4.

Fifth-seeded Jelena Ostapenko of Estonia looked back to some of her best tennis as she dismissed Kaia Kanepi, 6-3, 7-5.

It was Ostapenko’s first match since losing in the first round of her French Open title defense.

Other seeded players to make it to the third round were: Daria Kasatkina, Elise Mertens, Barbora Strycova and Anastasija Sevastova.

Nadal beats Ferrer to reach Barcelona Open quarterfinals

AP Photo
Leave a comment

BARCELONA, Spain — Rafael Nadal looked closer to his clay-court best again as he beat David Ferrer 6-3, 6-3 on Thursday to reach the quarterfinals of the Barcelona Open.

The 11-time Barcelona champion saved four of five break points and broke four times in what could have been his last meeting with Ferrer, who is retiring after the Madrid Open next month. It was a sign of improvement for Nadal, who lost in the semifinals in Monte Carlo last week and then needed three sets to get past Leonard Mayer in his opening match in Barcelona.

“This match was important for me,” Nadal said. “Yesterday I had a tough match. I took a step forward and was able to play with more energy.”

The top-seeded Nadal will next face either Stefanos Tsitsipas, last year’s runner-up, or Jan-Lennard Struff.

Nadal was up 5-3 in the first set before play was stopped for a rain delay. He continued to dictate the match when play resumed, serving out the set and breaking Ferrer’s next service game.

Ferrer saved three match points before finally sending a forehand into the net to give Nadal the win.

The 37-year-old Ferrer was making his last appearance at the Barcelona Open and could not hold back the tears when he received an ovation from the audience. He placed his pink headband on the court as a mark that he had played his last match here.

“I am happy to be able to finish this tournament on the center court, playing against Nadal. I gave it my all,” Ferrer said.

Also, third-seeded Dominic Thiem broke Jaume Munar five times to earn a 7-5, 6-1 victory. Fourth-seeded Kei Nishikori, who won the tournament in 2014 and 2015, brushed off Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-1, 6-3.

Grigor Dimitrov was beaten 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (2) by Nicolas Jarry, who will meet Daniil Medvedev after he beat American Mackenzie McDonald 6-3, 6-2.

Osaka opens clay campaign by beating Hsieh in Stuttgart

Getty Images
Leave a comment

STUTTGART, Germany — Top-ranked Naomi Osaka opened her clay-court season by beating Hsieh Su-wei of Taiwan 6-4, 6-3, on Thursday to reach the Porsche Grand Prix quarterfinals.

Osaka hit 22 winners and converted three of her six break points to seal the win in 1 hour, 24 minutes and set up a meeting with Donna Vekic of Croatia.

After saving two break points early, it was an unusually smooth victory for Osaka over Hsieh. She needed three sets to get past the Taiwanese veteran en route to her Australian Open victory and then lost to her at the Miami Open last month.

“I felt like this surface is more suited for me (than Hsieh),” Osaka said. “I was sort of in my plan. So, I just felt like I executed what I was trying to do.”

Two-time Stuttgart champion Angelique Kerber also advanced by beating fellow German Andrea Petkovic 6-2, 6-4. The fifth-seeded Kerber saved two break points to hold for 2-2 in the first set and then reeled off the next four games to take control. She then earned a decisive break for 4-3 in the second before closing out the win with her fourth match point.

Kerber will face sixth-seeded Kiki Bertens, who served 20 aces to rally for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over Belinda Bencic.

No. 7 Anastasija Sevastova also advanced by beating former champion Laura Siegemund of Germany 6-4, 6-3 to set up a quarterfinal against Petra Kvitova, who advanced on Wednesday.

Vekic dispatched Russia’s Daria Kasatkina, 6-1, 7-5, earlier on Thursday.